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Org Biomol Chem. 2005 Jan 7;3(1):57-64. Epub 2004 Nov 18.

Biotransformation of the sesquiterpene (+)-valencene by cytochrome P450cam and P450BM-3.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, UK OX1 3QR.


The sesquiterpenoids are a large class of naturally occurring compounds with biological functions and desirable properties. Oxidation of the sesquiterpene (+)-valencene by wild type and mutants of P450cam from Pseudomonas putida, and of P450BM-3 from Bacillus megaterium, have been investigated as a potential route to (+)-nootkatone, a fine fragrance. Wild type P450cam did not oxidise (+)-valencene but the mutants showed activities up to 9.8 nmol (nmol P450)(-1) min(-1), with (+)-trans-nootkatol and (+)-nootkatone constituting >85% of the products. Wild type P450BM-3 and mutants had higher activities (up to 43 min(-1)) than P450cam but were much less selective. Of the many products, cis- and trans-(+)-nootkatol, (+)-nootkatone, cis-(+)-valencene-1,10-epoxide, trans-(+)-nootkaton-9-ol, and (+)-nootkatone-13S,14-epoxide were isolated from whole-cell reactions and characterised. The selectivity patterns suggest that (+)-valencene has one binding orientation in P450cam but multiple orientations in P450BM-3.

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